Cover Gaggan Anand and the Lick It Up course. (Photo: Tory Ho)

Find out what surprises ended up on the plate at Hong Kong's most anticipated social occasion, presented by Tatler

On November 7, 360 of Hong Kong’s most influential individuals descended upon the West Kowloon Cultural District for the 2022 M+ Gala presented by Tatler. Against the backdrop of world-renowned Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama's artworks—for whom M+ is hosting the largest retrospective in Asia outside of Japan—two other creative geniuses were also creating works of art—except these particular pieces would be gone, consumed by the end of the night.

To mark the occasion, Tatler invited Indian chef Gaggan Anand—best known for being the proprietor of Gaggan in Bangkok, which ranked number one on Asia's 50 Best Restaurants four years in a row—to curate a menu alongside award-winning chef Agustin Balbi of Andō.

Gaggan, which closed in 2019, dominated Asia's 50 Best Restaurants from 2015 to 2018, and ranked number four on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list in 2019. After parting ways with investors, Anand ventured out on his own, opening the restaurant Gaggan Anand in November 2019, which won the Highest New Entry award and fifth place in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list in 2021.

Anand is best known for his cheeky, countercultural take on fine dining, with viral tasting menus based on emojis that challenged preconceived norms on what haute cuisine should be. Combined with Balbi's penchant for blending his Spanish heritage and Italian roots with his culinary experiences in Japan, the stage was set for an iconoclastic menu that was worthy of the magnitude of the occasion.

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The Menu

Curated by Gaggan Anand and Agustin Balbi, and produced by the Grand Hyatt Hong Kong's Soren Lascelles, this year's menu for the 2022 M+ Gala presented by Tatler was a feat in culinary image-making. 

The meal began with a starter of scallops cured using the kombu-jime method, paired with cold curry and garnished with coconut snow. This was followed by Anand's signature Lick It Up, where diners are encouraged to lick the dish without the use of any utensils—in this case, Yayoi Kusama's iconic polka-dot pumpkin was painstakingly recreated on the plate with the use of onion tamarind chutney and pumpkin purée.

The mid-point of the meal was dedicated to entrées that combined local culinary influences with South Asian touches, in dishes like lobster and daikon with yellow wine, and barramundi with Bengali mustard cooked in banana leaf and cedar wood. Balbi's signature dish at Andō, a lovingly rendered arroz caldoso of cured Spanish beef, clam stock, and Yumepirika rice, served as the final savoury course.

The dinner ended with a dessert of pistachio mousse with grapefruit and rose essence, and a final subversion of dining and social conventions—an Autumn Lassi of papaya, passionfruit and milk served in a baby bottle, which guests could either enjoy directly from the vessel, or squirt atop their dessert.

Throughout the night, bottles of Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame 2012 x Yayoi Kusama Limited Edition champagne, sporting the artist's yellow-and-black polka dot pattern on the label, were poured freely, alongside Garrus by Chateau d’Esclans rosé and Hennessy Paradis cognac.

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